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Facial Expression Recognition Ability Among Women with Borderline Personality Disorder: Implications for Emotion Regulation?

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This study examined recognition of facial expressions of emotion among women diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD; n = 21), compared to a group of women with histories of childhood sexual abuse with no current or prior diagnosis of BPD (n = 21) and a group of women with no history of sexual abuse or BPD (n = 20). Facial recognition was assessed by a slide set developed by Ekman and Matsumoto (Japanese and Caucasian Facial Expressions of Emotion and Neutral Faces, 1992), expanded and improved from previous slide sets, and utilized a coding system that allowed for free responses rather than the more typical fixed-response format. Results indicated that borderline individuals were primarily accurate perceivers of others' emotions and showed a tendency toward heightened sensitivity on recognition of fear, specifically. Results are discussed in terms of emotional appraisal ability and emotion dysregulation among individuals with BPD.